Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Matters at Babson College
As student leaders on the Babson College campus, Haja Ba’24 and Ashley Patterson MBA’22 see firsthand the impact of the College’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Not only do they help advance DEI on campus, but they also appreciate the efforts of the entire College community.
Ba is part of The Johnson House, the College Living Community for the Black Student Union, for which she sits on the board of directors as Director of Logistics. She is impressed with how Babson’s DEI initiatives are holistic and how the entire College community feels so focused on the same goals.
“One of the things Babson is doing right now is we’re connecting the different organizations and efforts,” Ba said. “DCI’s efforts are not isolated; they are all online right now. And we’re trying to find more ways to connect with each other.
Patterson, co-chair of the Babson Black Graduate Club with Alexander Oubre MBA’22, says these efforts are making a difference, especially on an individual level.
“Knowing that I’m part of a community that cares about what’s happening with you individually and that they’re going to make changes to make sure your student experience is the best it can be is invaluable to me,” Patterson said. “And it helps me raise my own voice and feel empowered and powerful to share my own stories. It’s amazing work that the College does.
Both Ba and Patterson participated in presenting this work on Monday at a community forum about the College’s progress on its DEI strategy. The community forum, which was attended by more than 500 people in person and online, marked the culmination of Babson’s celebration of Black History Month.
black history month
At the end of Black History Month, the Community Forum – led by Sadie Burton-Goss, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Babson – was an opportunity for the College to pause and reflect. the work that has been done and the work that remains.
The flagship event of Black History Month at Babson was Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Day, which featured the personal story and call to action of former professional tennis player James Blake. The Johnson House also hosted several other events including a Black Movie Night, a Takeover at Trim Dining Hall and a Spirit Week with daily programming during the last full week of February.
As Black History Month comes to an end, Burton-Goss acknowledged that work and celebration are not.
“For the black community, every day is important that we recognize and celebrate, beyond Black History Month. And we do that at Babson College,” Burton-Goss said. “We do it with clubs, we do it with courses, we do it with our commitment to our students and to each other.”
At the community forum, Burton-Goss led a panel of eight speakers, including students, faculty and staff, detailing the myriad ways the College continues to advance DEI efforts on campus.
Ba talked about The Johnson House, which opened in 2020 on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Student Union by Eric Johnson ’72, P’08, who now sits on the College’s Board of Trustees. In addition to the events it hosted during Black History Month, Johnson House also hosts TJH talks, social campaigns, and other community events.
“We feel so empowered right now. We feel so connected because of what we’ve been able to do,” Ba said after the forum. “We feel like a community right now.”
Patterson spoke about expanding the graduate school community as co-chair of the Babson Black Graduate Club, which was formerly the Black MBA Club before recently rebranding under Patterson and Oubre. “Because there are so many graduate programs, not just the MBA club, we wanted to make sure everyone had a place in this community where they could call home.”
The forum also introduced the College’s new Multicultural and Identity Programs (MIP) leadership: Natalie Williams-Rispoli, Director; and Anthony Del Real, assistant director. “We work to help students feel a sense of inclusiveness and belonging across identities, all dimensions of identity, those that are visible and those that are beyond what we have physically observed” , said Williams-Rispoli.
The driving force behind MIP’s efforts are Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) student leaders. “They’re also really key to developing programming that’s relevant to what students are talking about and pressing issues around identity and inclusion,” Williams-Rispoli said.
Teachers and support staff
Much of the College’s DEI efforts, of course, manifest in the classroom, where faculty engage students and materials more thoroughly after completing the Inclusive Teaching Training Program (ITTP).
ITTP – co-founded by Jerome Taillard, associate professor of finance and George Troughton Term Chair in Finance, and Nan Langowitz, professor of management and faculty director at Babson’s Center for Engaged Learning – has now trained 140 full-time faculty. “It’s really led professors to consider DEI at a deeper level, a more holistic level than ever before,” Taillard said.
Babson’s Jane C. Edmonds appointed to the board of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Angela Randolph, assistant professor of entrepreneurship, also sits on the college’s Dean’s Inclusive Excellence Committee (DoCIE) and spoke about a recent luncheon focused on DEI-related research that drew more than 40 faculty members. Randolph also helps develop the Black Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program (BWEL) as an academic advisor. “The program is designed specifically for black women,” she said. “So as we think about programming in terms of DEI, it’s important to think about who we’re targeting, in terms of who’s going to enjoy the program and what they need.”
The panel also included Jerry Epps, Babson’s first supplier diversity director who is building a supplier diversity program from the ground up, and Michael Bruny MBA’18, who leads the College’s employee resource groups, including the Babson Ebony Network.
Babson’s commitment to DEI is not only a central pillar of the strategic plan, it is also imperative for developing business leaders, said Babson Chairman Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD.
“Babson believes you can’t be a business leader if you’re not inclusive and understand the diversity of the environment,” Spinelli said in his opening remarks. “Bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion into our curriculum creates a platform for us to teach entrepreneurial leadership, and I think that’s an incredible competitive advantage.”
“Bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion into our curriculum creates a platform for us to teach entrepreneurial leadership, and I think that’s an incredible competitive advantage.”
President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD
This integration is also a competitive advantage for students. For Burton-Goss, seeing all of the College’s efforts come together to impact students and their development is most encouraging.
“My hope for all of our students is that they are uniquely prepared to engage and lead a diverse workforce, whether it’s their own business or another business,” Burton said. -Goss. “This experience uniquely prepares them to do it effectively wherever they are.”
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